Entrepreneurs Circle Logo
Entrepreneurs Circle Logo Business Growth Central Podcast Logo

Episode 18

Do Not Disturb Unless Building Is On Fire

Most business owners get overwhelmed.

There’s so much you could be doing but already so much to do! Argh!

Well in this episode of our weekly video podcast, Business Growth Central, Nigel has a story and a tool to help you crack overwhelm once and for all...

Episode 18:
Do Not Disturb Unless Building Is On Fire
00:00 / 00:00

Episode Transcript:

- Hi, welcome to "Business Growth Central." Well, this week we're going back in time.

- Great Scott.

- Now, a lot of people have joined Entrepreneurs Circle over the last few weeks, and one of the most common kind of responses or reactions that we get from people early in their membership is things can feel a bit overwhelming. Where do I start? There's so much to do. I haven't got time. And I wanna help you today in two specific ways. One of the ways I'm gonna tell you a story, and the second way I'm gonna give you a tool. Now, the story is my story. I'm gonna tell you very, very briefly. When I started my business back in January 2003, when I stepped off the corporate ladder, and set up my own business, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I'll never, ever forget my very first morning in business as an entrepreneur when Sue had taken the children off to school, and I went upstairs to the back bedroom where most businesses start. And as that door swung closed behind me, I just felt this overwhelming sense of, "Oh, ," it's like, " What have I done?" The, the responsibility for everything that mattered to me in my life was now on my shoulders. I had to make this business work in order to preserve and protect everything that mattered to me. Now, like everybody else, I'm really good at procrastinating. I mean, honestly, if there was an Olympics for procrastination, I would be the captain of team GB. I have to work really hard even still now to ensure that I get the stuff done. And one guy that helped me back then was a chap called Martin Howey. Now a long story, Martin had a lot of experience in business, and he used to pop around to my house every two or three weeks, and we'd have a cup of tea, and we'd talk about business. And he'd give me the benefit of all his experience and knowledge that he had. And one day, we were sat in my lounge at home, and Martin asked me a question, and he said, "Nige, what's the single most important thing you've gotta do "for this business of yours to be a success?" That's a horrible question, isn't it? And I flip flopped around, but I said aloud, "I figure, Martin, I've gotta get "and keep enough customers." He said, "Nige, I think you're right." I thought, "Phew." He said, "So when are you gettin' "and keeping customers today then?" I said, "Sorry?" He said, "Well, you've just told me "what the single most important thing is "for the success of your business, "which, Nige, I happen to know is the single most "important thing in your life right now." It was, he was right. Said, "Surely any sane sensible person "will have some time set aside every day "to do that single most important thing." Well, I felt a right twit, 'cause I didn't have time set aside to do the single most important thing. I was very busy every day. Oh my goodness me, I was busy. I was working so hard. I was looking after my clients. I was opening the post. I was doing my bookkeeping. All my emails were all up to date. My inbox was meticulous, but what I didn't have was specific time every day to do the things that would move my business towards where I wanted it to be. But the very next day after that conversation with Martin Howey, I started a new habit. I remember it so well because that habit that I started the following day has changed my life 'cause you see, I'm a morning person. I'm at my best in a morning. I'm at my most productive. My brain is firing the minute I roll out of bed, and then it's a steady, slow gradual decline towards the afternoon and the end of the day. But I started spending the first 90 minutes of every day at my desk working on my business doing the things that would move my business towards where I wanted it to be, doing the things that would get and keep customers for me. And you know, if anyone were to go back and analyze all the success that I've been very fortunate enough to achieve in business over the last 16 or 17 years, what they will find is that all that success has been built in 90-minute chunks. That's the key point of this episode of "Business Growth Central." It's such an important point that I wrote a book about it: "Build Your Business in 90 Minutes a Day." Because I promise you, whatever stage you are at with your business right now, if you can deploy the habit that I was able to discover with Martin Howey's help all those years ago, it will transform your business and your life. Here's how it works. You pick the time of day that works best for you. Now, I'm a morning person, as I said earlier. Some people are night owls. In that case, do your 90 minutes late in the evening, but pick the time of day when you are at your best and ring fence 90 minutes of it for you and your business. What that means is your phone is turned off. No one can ring you. Your email is closed down on your computer. Your door is locked shot. I mean, literally you have to be undisturbable. There's a sign on my door that says, "Do not disturb unless building is on fire." And it only took one disciplinary for my staff to recognize and realize that I'm serious. When my door is shut and that sign is up there, they do not come in. Sue knows not to ring me during my 90 minutes. There's nothing that won't wait 90 minutes. And the price you pay for disturbing your 90 minutes is massive. Because when you're able to get into the zone, when you're able to focus on the things that matter to get and keep customers, to build your business, to move it towards where you want it to be, when you can do that for 90 minutes a day, five days a week, that's seven-and-a-half hours a week. It's 30 hours a month of focused concentrated time of you at your best. That's how you make big progress. That's how you deal with the overwhelm. Doesn't need to be two hours or two-and-a-half hours. Doesn't need a half a day set into one side. It needs the rhythm of 90 minutes to enable you to put in place the rhythm of rhythmic acquisition of customers. These things are all connected. So the first way to cure overwhelm is to take control of your working day. You know, if you work from 9:00 AM until 6:00 PM, which most of us as business owners do, then it means you've got 12 45-minute slots every single day of the week. And five days a week with 12 slots in each day means you've got 60 45-minutes slots in a working week and your job to deal with overwhelm, to move your business towards where you want it to be, is for you to take control of those 45-minutes slots. And start with taking control of two of them every day and making them your 90 minutes. To do, that's all very well, Nige, but what should I do with my 90 minutes? Well, I've got a checklist of all the things you can do, but the fundamental rule is you do the things that are gonna make your business better for you, the things that are improving your business. You can't do customer work. You can't do client work. You don't do anything that involves your staff at all. You use your brain. I write my copy, this is when you start to test your new campaigns on Facebook or on Google. It's when you start to sketch out what you're gonna do with your leaflet, or you're creating your offers, or you're building your new products. Sometimes it's just thinking about where am I taking this business? Where is it going? But it's 90 minutes of focused time to get the things that matter most to you done. And when you make that happen, you will be stunned at the progress that you will make, and indeed, at the speed at which it will happen. The real trick, of course, is to have the list made out the day before. I have a little saying that "Today ain't over "till tomorrow's planned." So before I leave my office every evening, my little pad has clearly on it the things I'm gonna do in my 90 minutes tomorrow morning. And when I come in here, and I'm often the first here, I might have a little brief chat with Matt the Butler on the way in, but then the door is shut, the sign is out, everything's turned off as I said, and I can focus on the things that matter to me and then round about nine o'clock, I can emerge kind of blinking into the lights, and I can tackle whatever the day throws at me 'cause I've done the most important thing. And without that rigor, without that habit, without that discipline of that 90-minute-a-day dose of injection into your business, without it, it's very difficult to make progress, but with it, remarkably straightforward to make progress. And that's why this is such an important element of building any successful business. Building it 90 minutes a day just like I've done and just like many hundreds of other EC members have done as well over the last 15 years. Hope that's helpful. Back next week with more. See you then, bye-bye. Matt, can I borrow you for a second?

- [Matt] Will you leave me alone. I'm doing me 90 minutes.

View All Episodes